We're offering a rather short entry today!


Maureen Dowd uses a word:
Yesterday, Maureen Dowd used a word in her New York Times column.

The column appeared on the front page of the Times' Sunday Review. The word in question is considered quite potent, except when it's used as a lark.

Dowd used the word in her column itself, in which she quoted Michael Cohen's testimony from last week. The powerful word also appeared in the headline atop her long column:
DOWD (3/3/19): The Sycophant and the Sociopath


“Mr. Trump is an enigma,” Cohen said. “He is complicated, as am I.”

Actually, Trump is simple, grasping for money, attention and fame. The enigma about Trump is why he cut off his lap dog so brutally that Cohen fell into the embrace of Robert Mueller and New York federal prosecutors. Trump is often compared to a mob boss, but Michael Corleone would never turn on a loyal capo, only on one who had crossed him.

The portrait Cohen drew of Trump was not surprising. It has been apparent for some time that the president is a con man, racist, cheat and liar. (See: Jared Kushner security clearance.)

What was most compelling about the congressional hearing was the portrait of the sadistic relationship between the sycophant and the sociopath.
Is Donald J. Trump a sociopath? That's the powerful word Dowd used, in the body of her column and right up there in her headline.

Is President Trump a sociopath? Dowd may have wanted that to be seen as an eye-catching, throw-away term.

Beyond that, "sociopath" doesn't seem to be an official diagnostic term. In July 2016, The Atlantic's James Hamblin wrote this:
HAMBLIN (7/20/16): [S]ociopathy and psychopathy—which are similar, and sometimes used interchangeably—are not formal psychiatric diagnoses. The terms “sociopath” and “psychopath” do tend to be thrown around casually by people in need of an insult that carries an air of empiricism. “My boss is a sociopath” is to say that this is not just an opinion or judgment, but a fact. But different people define the terms differently, with understandings converging around the feature of lacking “a conscience.”

The closest thing to psychopathy or sociopathy in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM)—the book that defines every mental illness and outlines how mental-health professionals should make the diagnosis—is either Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Antisocial Personality Disorder.
"Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Antisocial Personality Disorder." Hamblin went on to consider the applicability of those diagnostic terms to then-candidate Trump.

This very occasional discussion sputtered forward from there. In September 2017, Harvard psychiatric Lance Dodes seemed to tell Salon's Chauncey DeVega that Trump meets the general criteria for "sociopathy" as generally understood:
DEVEGA (9/12/17): Clinically, if we were to look at the checklist for sociopathy, what are some of the indicators that Trump is presenting?

DODES: It is people who lie and cheat. Everybody lies some of the time, but in this instance we mean people who lie as a way of being in the world, to manage relationships and also to manage your feelings about yourself. People who cheat and steal from others. People who lack empathy...the lack of empathy is a critical aspect of it. People who are narcissistic.

Trump’s case of narcissism is particularly severe because he also is out of touch with reality whenever he becomes upset. When he says, “I had the largest crowd at an inauguration in history,” it does not matter that you can tell him that it is not true, he still insists on it. Well, that is very troublesome because what it means is that he needs to believe it. He is able to give up reality in exchange for his wished-for belief. Sometimes we call that a delusion. We have not used that word much with Donald Trump because that does get confused with people who think that they are Napoleon. But Trump has a fluid sense of reality, which is a sign of a very sick individual.

Sociopathy itself is a sign of a very sick individual,
someone with a lying, cheating and emotional disorder. The intersection of those two occurs in sociopathy. It is not just bad behavior that people have to lie and cheat the way he does, it is an incapacity to treat other people as full human beings. That is why his focus is on humiliating others to aggrandize himself, as he did in the Republican primaries when he was debating and calling people names. The same thing applies to Hispanic immigrants and separating the children from their parents. That is a very, very serious mental and emotional problem. Normal people have normal empathy. It is part of being a human being. Lying and cheating and humiliating others and grinding them into dust in order to triumph is not just bad behavior. It is a serious mental illness.
Dodes is one of the psychiatrists who wrote essays for The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, a book edited by Yale's Dr. Bandy X. Lee. The book was widely ignored by the press.

Is President Trump in the grip of "a serious mental illness?" After this editorial early last year by the New York Times, the mainstream press corps generally agreed not to debate or discuss that question.

That said, is the president "dangerous?" We can't necessarily say.

Last week, Cohen said that, if Trump is defeated for re-election, we may not have a peaceful transfer of power. Four days later, Dowd used a powerful term.

Sometimes, if it weren't for the lack of public discussion, our society would have no public discussions at all. We were struck by the appearance of that word in yesterday's Sunday Review, but we've come to accept a powerful norm:

Our mainstream political punditry is built around issues of body language, wardrobe and personality quirks. (Also, who may have had sex on one occasion with whom.)

Issues of hair may also arise. It's not clear that other things matter.


  1. Anti-Trump psychiatrist Lance Dodes wrote, "Trump’s case of narcissism is particularly severe because he also is out of touch with reality whenever he becomes upset." The key point is out of touch with reality. Someone out of touch with reality is mentally ill and potentially dangerous to himself and others. E.g., read "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" by Oliver Sachs.

    However, the evidence shows that Trump IS in touch with reality. A person who doesn't know what's real and what's imaginary is not going to succeed in the real world. Trump's extraordinary successes prove that he is not out of touch with reality.

    1. Trump's six bankruptcies say otherwise.

    2. Nice try dembot zombie.
      Trump isn't misunderstood. His racist voters hear him loud and clear.

    3. So, David, what does it say about the doddering old fool, that he keeps referring to a manuscript of a Cohen book, which has never been written?

    4. "However, the evidence shows that Trump IS in touch with reality. "

      Yeah, and that's the basis of the zombie hatred.

      What else is new?

    5. Evidence that Donald J Chickenshit is in touch with reality:

      "I know more about drones than anybody. I know about every form of safety that you can have."

      "I know more about ISIS than the generals do."

      "I know more about courts than any human being on Earth."

      "[W]ho knows more about lawsuits than I do? I'm the king."

      "Nobody knows more about trade than me."

      "I know more about renewables than any human being on Earth."

      "[L]ook, as a builder, nobody in the history of this country has ever known so much about infrastructure as Donald Trump."

      "[N]obody knows more about construction than I do."

      "I think I know about it better than [the Federal Reserve]."

      "Technology — nobody knows more about technology than me."

      He's a fucking megalomaniacal snake oil salesman, and I ain't buying any snake oil today or any other day.

    6. Not only does Trump understand reality, he understands the realities OF OTHERS. A form of empathy. Which is why he can get into others' heads and charm them or infuriate them, and knows exactly what he needs to do to cause an election victory for himself. If you watched the CPAC speech you'll see him at his finest. Only an idiot would bet against him.

    7. Both narcissists and psychopaths can understand others needs in order to manipulate them. The problem is that they don't care about other people.

      When asked about global warming Trump said, who cares, I won't be here?

    8. The only problem with Donald J Chickenshit's CPAC speech was that it was too short and never got around to proving with geometric logic that a duplicate key to ward room ice box (strawberries) did exist. Plus he didn't shoot anybody, but give him time.

      By the way, you better not steal my hamburgers.

    9. @4:42 PM,
      I never listen to speeches, but according to this it was indeed remarkable.

      But then, mocking lib-zombies is not really a difficult task.

      IMHO, his brilliance is not in any one speech, but in gradually uncovering highfalutin liberal hypocrites as raving & ranting hate-spewing violent obnoxious zombies.

      Whatever happens, this will not be forgotten...

    10. Trump's brilliance is in suppressing the votes of minorities.
      Get with the program, zombie dembot.

    11. You don't need to sign your comments every time, dembot. We know what you are.

    12. Zombie at 10:14 is an elitist who thinks he can look into the hearts of those on the internet.
      Nice delusions of grandeur you have there dembot.

  2. Oh dear. Few things in nature are as beautiful as a psycho-dembot foaming at teh mouth.

    Especially when it's one of the dembot-high-priests, from the goebbelsian establishment media...

    1. Dembot zombie narcissist at 12:50 PM finds himself beautiful. Go figure.

  3. mm - a couple of days ago you and I were debating how badly the middle class is hurt by the cap on the deduction for state and local taxes. Here's some data which shows that the effect of SALT on the middle class is small.

    Recently Newsday reported, "Nearly 11 million Americans nationwide would have been capped from deducting more than $323 billion in state and local taxes in 2017 because of changes enacted in the GOP's tax reform legislation..." Eleven million is less than 5% of the 236 millions returns filed. Chances are most of those are upper middle class and above, because wealthier people are more apt to pay over $10,000 in state and local taxes. Also, some who lost part of their SALT deduction will make it up thanks to lower rates.

    1. Itemized deductions definitely benefit the upper classes, but the propaganda that it helps the middle class seems to be unassailable.

      People want to believe it - the damned sociopaths.

      But the Republican tax cuts for the rich still suck.

      For me, personally at $17,879.97 income. Well, I lost the form 8880 deduction, but I would bet that very few taxpayers were taking advantage of that loophole (for lower income people).

      So that made me actually pay taxes for the first time in about 15 years.

      Sort of. Since I still could take an IRA deduction, I did so. Which then made my Obamacare refund that much larger by about $450.

      However, I could have taken advantage of that trick over the last three years too.

    2. As far as I can tell, limiting the SALT deduction mostly hurts the upper middle class in order to help offset the tax cuts for the wealthy. This is largely due to the increase of the standard deduction to $12k, up from $6350. It might hurt those in the middle class that are extraordinarily creative with itemizing deductions, although this is debatable since the limitation does not affect payments in pursuit of a trade or business.

      It is not good policy to fritter way the extra revenues from limiting SALT deductions by cutting taxes for the wealthy.

      There are criticisms that limiting SALT deductions will make it harder for states to raise taxes and borrow money. These are not direct consequences so it is not clear the extent to which these are valid; however, if they are valid than they will need to be addressed. Already some Republicans are proposing legislation to get rid of the SALT deduction limitations.

      Largely the TCJA was a windfall for the wealthy and corporations at the expense of everyone else.

    3. "a windfall for the wealthy and corporations at the expense of everyone else"

      Ouch. How horrible...


    4. Schumer, a centrist at best and amongst the dwindling numbers of corporatists dems, was not proposing a windfall for corps at the expense of everyone else.

      Schumer was supporting "some kind of international tax reform tied to a large infrastructure program.”

    5. Yeah, the GIANT zombie CORPORATE TAX CUT would've been enacted exclusively for the children...

      It's nice that you dembots are retarded, but it's positively charming how you're so confident that everyone else is too...

    6. Charming? You should have been alive for the 2016 Presidential Election, dembot.

    7. "For the children".
      That being an excuse for doing anything went out the window, when you hid under your bed from a 5-year old refugee at our border.

    8. Schumer suggested "some kind of international tax reform tied to a large infrastructure program”, not a giant corporate tax cut, and only if it included large infrastructure spending.

      Republicans do not support infrastructure spending so there was no bill for Schumer to support.

      Schumer voted no on the TCJA.

      Trump trolls embody the Dunning-Kruger effect.

    9. as someone from NY, it is very easy for a married couple to pay $10,000 in property + state and local income taxes in the NYC area...and believe me you don't have to be all that wealthy to do it. Just own a home and have two working spouses.

    10. Dembot, what Schumer suggested was exactly a giant corporate tax cut. Just like Jon Schwarz (Michael Moore's associate) describes it.

      Of course your Great Zombie Leader couldn't call it "giant corporate tax cut", because you little zombies would be confused. Thus "some kind of international tax reform", blah, blah, blah.

      But fine, obviously arguing with dembots is a waste of time. You can have the last word now.

    11. Vote for Donald J Chickenshit, he's exactly like Schumer. Go with that, dittohead.

    12. TCJA was a giant corporate tax cut, what Schumer offered was "some kind of international tax reform tied to a large infrastructure program”.

      Do you really think Schumer thought he could get Republicans on board with "a large infrastructure program”? Duh, not only was it not a giant corporate tax cut on the scale of TCJA, it was not a serious proposal.

      The Democratic Party is shedding it's vestigial corporatist wing as it becomes more progressive. Schumer is no liberal hero, he's a relic whose days are numbered; that said, there's no excuse for the mumbled jumbled assertion on tax size. If you're looking for a giant tax cut to inveigh against, none better than the TCJA.

    13. I love your denials, dembot. They sound exactly like the old joke: I never borrowed your tea pot,
      it was already broken when I borrowed it, and it was in perfect condition when I returned it.

    14. It's bizarre you feel the need to share your inner thoughts, you were proven wrong, get over it, or don't, you are certainly welcome to offer counterarguments.

    15. Excuse me, aside from the rest of your fantasies and suggestions, what is it you find bizarre, dembot?

  4. There is a real diagnosis, captured by the DSM's anti-social personality disorder. It doesn't have to explicitly say "sociopathy" or "psychopathy" to refer to the condition captured by those terms, which have been corrupted by everyday use. There are actual psychologists studying psychopathy, most of whom believe that it is rooted in a neural deficit. Whether someone becomes "dangerous" or runs afoul of the law depends on the environment in which they are raised. Most people with the neural substrate for psychopathy grow up to live within the law and do not hurt others, thus their behavior does not qualify them for a diagnosis under the DSM. Trump is an exception because he meets the diagnostic criteria -- which includes chronic lying and law-breaking, among other important behaviors.

    Somerby seems to be implying that Dowd is being sensationalist when she uses the term. I don't believe she is. It is fair to call him that when he is so clearly abnormal in his behavior. Nor are the shrinks she quotes "out to get" Trump or anti-Trump just because they too would apply that term to him. Narcissism is something else, with its own set of behaviors and diagnostic criteria. The combination is especially troubling, especially in someone with the power of the presidency.

    No one is going to apply Article 25 to this president. Politically, it isn't going to happen. Democrats are already pursuing the avenues that will lead to impeachment. What more does Somerby want?

    1. "Somerby seems to be implying that Dowd is being sensationalist when she uses the term."
      I disagree. I do not interpret Somerby's writing to imply that at all. I believe that he is responding more to the fact that, finally, someone in a prominent position, in a major newspaper, is using a term and a concept that was deemed to be "verboten" by that very newspaper. Methinks, Anon., that you are stretching to find fault with anything Bob says. Your writing has the hallmark and style of one commenter here who is consistently and perpetually finding fault. You seem to be interpreting Bob through a glass darkly. Why is that?

    2. Somerby explicitly says: "Dowd may have wanted that to be seen as an eye-catching, throw-away term." In other words, she didn't mean it (throw away) but wanted to attract attention (eye-catching). That seems consistent with my use of the word "sensationalist". Then Somerby goes on to question whether the diagnosis fits Trump and whether it is a real mental illness or not. I addressed that because in all of my training in mental health, the terms have referred to something real and because I know people who study those labeled psychopaths.

      Historically, Somerby doesn't like Dowd much. If he is now using her as some sort of authority to support a position he himself wishes to see explored more, he is being somewhat hypocritical. The only real source of expertise is that book he quoted, written by professionals in the field.

      It has been discussed several times here in comments why Trump's mental health is not going to be challenged, as Somerby seems to be wishing the press to do. The press reports news and if no mental health professionals are being allowed to examine Trump, there is nothing substantive to report about his mental health. That is why Trump's failure to have real health exams is so troubling. There can be many things wrong with him, from onset of dementia to untreated diabetes (or treated blood sugar problems that affect memory and cognition) to phobias or OCD or a drug problem (some suggest Adderall addiction), to brain tumor. We cannot know and there is little point in the press speculating beyond what any professional is willing to say. So what exactly does Somerby expect pundits and the mainstream press to do?

      I dislike Somerby intensely. I used to be one of his defenders, but he changed and so did my feelings about him. I cannot pinpoint exactly when he changed but I think it may have been back when the Russians started manipulating our election and Trump decided he wanted to run for president. That's why I think Somerby is now on the Russian payroll. Or maybe we should be asking questions about Somerby's mental health. There may be plenty of justification for that given his incoherent ramblings about Aristotle and Harari. I don't have to stretch to find fault. In this case, I just disagree with both his quoted material that psychopathy/sociopathy are not real, to his suggestion that the press should be discussing his behavior in terms of mental health when no one else is doing so.

  5. "Is President Trump a sociopath?"

    It has been leaked by disloyal staff that certain facts about immigrants and others are hidden from Trump because he will react compassionately and change his policies.

    The left wants to justify their Stalinist use of mental illness but it just doesn't fly.

    1. That needs to be leaked to Fox News.
      The fact that Trump is compassionate to the plight of immigrants, and other minorities is an electoral game-changer.

  6. "Lying and cheating and humiliating others and grinding them into dust in order to triumph is not just bad behavior. It is a serious mental illness."

    Which is why crazy Hillary was defeated by her sociopathic "deplorables" speech. Voters found her a risk to herself and others.

  7. "deplorable" is nothing, it's just a normal manifestation of the intrinsic lib-zombie contempt for the working people.

    Annihilating, for no reason at all, the most prosperous country in Africa, and then giggling, on TV, over a sadistic murder of one of the greatest anti-colonial leaders, on the other hand...

    1. "Working people" is a funny name for opioid addicted, gullible Fox News viewers. But as a dembot zombie, you already knew that.

    2. Thanks for the illustration, dembot. Always appreciated.

    3. I get it, words are too hard so you need drawings. That's the case with all of you zombie dembots.

    4. Mao can not handle criticism. Best to not bother.

  8. From Political Wire:

    "“A book that pushes the conspiracy theory Qanon climbed within the top 75 of all books sold on Amazon in recent days, pushed by Amazon’s algorithmically generated recommendations page,” NBC News reports.

    “QAnon: An Invitation to the Great Awakening, which has no stated author, ranked at No. 56 at press time, was featured in the algorithmically generated ‘Hot new releases’ section on Amazon’s books landing page. The book claims without evidence a variety of outlandish claims including that prominent Democrats murder and eat children and that the U.S. government created both AIDS and the movie Monsters Inc.”


    Algorithmically generated. How can we complain that our country is being run by a madman when bestseller lists can be gamed to produce a recommendation of full-on craziness to the unsuspecting reader?

    You can write off Trump as mentally ill, but do you also write off that segment of the population that believes this Q-Anon crap? What do you do with Trump's demented followers, or worse, the followers of Alex Jones and his ilk. Trump didn't make them crazy. They were already like that.

    Is Somerby ready to grapple with the seething underbelly of craziness that supports Trump, or his he still arguing that they had good reasons for supporting someone who has been visibly mentally ill since he first rode down the escalator, but was elected anyway?

  9. Dembot, the reason populations resort to conspiracy theories is the lack of trust in their elites, mainstream media, and other social institutions.

    You're conditioned by your zombie cult to believe your zombie conspiracy theories ('Russian collusion' and all that), while others, who are less susceptible to zombie propaganda, look for their own ways to make sense of the world around them.

    In the end, this is just another symptom of a tremendous structural crisis.

    ...caused, imo, by what's called 'neoliberalism' (in reality it's just another face of garden variety liberalism).

    ...currently encompassing not just the US, but Europe as well; all western civilization.


    1. What color is the sky in your dembot zombie world?

    2. The Dembot Zombie forecast calls for bitterly blue skies, with delicious tears raining down until 2025.

    3. Ha ha. Dembot tears of frustration. Let them struggle to figure out if Right-wing debaters are complete fucking morons, who spout things they know nothing about, or (more likely) just playing they are complete fucking morons, who spout things they know nothing about in an act of bad-faith arguing.
      Ha ha. Liberal tears.

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